Maidened my SA CAP232 Today!
After six long years of waiting, I FINALLY maidened my StevensAero CAP232 S300 today. And while I only got one flight in, it made me remember what I love about this hobby and why I am really looking forward to getting back into it.
So, why six years in the making? I bought the SA CAP232 kit when my wife and I were in our first apartment. I had nothing but time on my hands but I didn't have any money to speak of. So I bought the kit and the supplies to complete it but when I got to the radio gear, batteries and charger I just couldn't find the money. So the SA CAP232 became a permanent fixture hanging from the ceiling in our den.
Fast forward six years --- new house, 2 children and multiple promotions in my career and now I have the money to complete it but could never find the time. Last month I worked 64 hours of overtime (and I'm salary so no, it didn't equate into more money) but it made me realize that I've got to stop working all the time and play some. My life is/was completely revolving around work instead of revolving around my wife, children, God and me. So getting back into one of my favorite hobbies is my first step toward freedom outside the workplace. And this morning I maidened the "New Me" too.
To the flight! I took some pics before taking off in case I never saw it this way again. Check out this beauty:
(in this one you can see that the Solite film stretched over the past 6 years and even a warm iron wouldn't shrink it up)
I was nervous. I hadn't flown in 6+ years. This was my first REAL plane (sailplanes and a Sky Scooter previously). This was my first Dual Rate plane (and I was praying I had set them up properly).
I read that it didn't take much power to takeoff so I gave it about 1/3 power and she was rolling but not quite airborne so I bumped it to just over 1/2 throttle and pulled back on the stick and she JUMPED into the air and immediately banked hard left. I didn't panic but remembered the training from one of my sailplane buddies (Johnny) back in the day. Calm down, slight movements and right the plane. Added more power and slight right aileron and she was climbing out!
It was a lot twitchier than I had expected but I think that my low rates are still set too high. I would just have to deal with for this flight but it already had me worried about the landing. The wind was blowing sporadically (under 5mph but still too much for me on this maiden) UP HILL so I had to land downhill, into the wind. I made a few slow passes just to make sure everything was sound and to trim her out and then it was time to test the vertical I had read so much about when the SA CAP was the hot thing. She climbed straight up nearly out of sight! HOW EXCITING! This plane has an amazing power to weight ratio and wow... just the kind of challenge and experience I was looking for.
After about 3 minutes of slow passes, full throttle passes, loops and barrel rolls I figured I should fly the pattern a couple times and simulate a couple landings at about 30-40 feet to see how she handled under low power.
Again, I think my D/R were set to high so she was a twitchier than I would have liked but otherwise nothing unexpected. She flew true. Third time through the pattern I knew it was time to blow the cob webs off and bring her home. It would get that "first landing" out of the way and I could also reset the low rates after the landing and go for another round of flying.
On final about 6-8 feet off the ground a small gust of wind came and immediately through the cap into an accelerated nose-down attitude. She hit spinner-first and ground looped.
The prop broke and went flying past my head (I was a good 15 feet away). I had crashed my CAP that I had waited SO LONG FOR on the first flight. I dreaded walking over to it.
Good news - after a field inspection I see no damage to the airframe. Just some dirt on the spinner and vertical stab and a broken prop.
I may have lucked out this time but I didn't bring any gear with me to the field so I would have to pack it in and take it home for the afternoon (I only live about 5 minutes from the field I was at so no biggie).
Good day. I may go back later this afternoon when the wind dies down for another attempt.